I believe an important principle is evident here: the sins which leaders knowingly choose to condone or to tolerate become sins for which the leaders are also responsible. Is this not evidenced in Scripture? Was Eli not partially responsible for tolerating the sins of his sons 1 Samuel 2? Then there was Jacob before them, who seemed all too passive in dealing with the violation of his daughter and the revenge brought about by his sons Genesis No wonder the Israelites were admonished as parents to deal with their disobedient children Deuteronomy ; Proverbs ; ; This is why Paul sets this qualification down for church leaders:.
It is sad to say that in the church today, there are parents who choose to cling to their children rather than to rebuke and discipline them, because their commitment to their children is greater than their commitment to their God and to His Word. Now, on the other hand, we read that an Israelite deliberately carries out his sin in view of all, and once again no one does anything about it. He knew as all Israel should have known that God had forbidden such immorality and idolatry.
I am going to drive out before you the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. He also knew that those who practiced this kind of immorality were to be put to death. Filled with zeal for God, Phinehas stood up in the middle of the assembly in the sight of all , took a spear in hand, and went after the Israelite man and his mistress.
It would appear that by the time he reached the tent they were already engaged in sexual sin, and so with one thrust of his spear he put both the man and the woman to death. With this one act of religious zeal, Phinehas not only puts an end to the sin of these two people, he also brings to an end the plague which God had brought upon Israel, a plague which had already taken the lives of 24, Israelites.
He is the only one who is reported to have lifted a hand against this terrible sin which threatened the existence of the nation. The action of this one man seems to have saved the nation. One cannot avoid considering the possibility that Phinehas was, in one sense, foreshadowing the coming of our Lord and His atoning work at Calvary. As Phinehas acted in his zeal for the Lord by putting this couple to death, our Lord revealed His zeal by cleansing the temple John By his actions, Phinehas atoned for the sins of Israel and propitiated the righteous anger of God.
By laying down His own life, our Lord atoned for the sins of the world and satisfied the righteous anger of God. For Phinehas and his descendants, it meant the assurance of a permanent priestly role. Does this not suggest that Israel would be blessed through Phinehas, and does it not further illustrate the fact that while we are under the curse, our one chance at having peace with God is to be one of the descendants of our Lord, who has made peace with God for us? But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed Isaiah , NIV.
The purpose of this was to create in himself the two into one new man, thus making peace, 16 and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed. There is a blessing here, for the plague on Israel is terminated, and a blessing is pronounced upon Phinehas and his descendants.
There is also a curse, and this curse is upon the enemies of God, those who sought the downfall of Israel:. For a brief period of time, it looked as though Balaam had succeeded. The nation had been seduced and had fallen into spiritual harlotry. Thanks to the zealous action of one man—Phinehas—the nation was spared. Instead, God spared His people through the action of one righteous man. Verses 17 and 18 set the scene for the rest of the Book of Numbers. God therefore commanded Moses to see to it that the Midianites were destroyed for their treachery.
And so they were, along with Balaam:. Numbers , emphasis mine. Before we seek to underscore some of the things this text should teach us to do, let me begin by emphasizing something that it does not require or justify. This text does not justify violence in seeking justice in the name of God. I am greatly concerned that no one read this biblical text or this sermon and conclude that they are justified—even commended—in bombing abortion clinics, in shooting abortionists, and performing other acts of terrorism in the name of God.
Israel in those days was a theocracy, and God was their king 1 Samuel ; Phinehas was acting under divine orders. Today, God has ordained human government as the means by which justice is meted out Romans ; 1 Peter Let us beware, then, of finding any sanction here for lawlessness or vigilante justice. This text does have much to teach us about leadership. Israel fell into sin, and God called for the death of all of its leaders. Its leaders were not doing their job, part of which was to remove evil from the nation. These leaders were guilty, and worthy of death for knowing about sin and doing nothing about it.
How much greater their sin if they were actually practicing this sin, and by so doing, encouraging others to do so as well? I find it most distressing that a significant number of Americans recently brushed aside the immorality of its president. Little wonder that a president who would practice immorality would also seek to protect those who practice immorality as the Bible defines it. As many Americans expressed their desire to leave the president in office, so the Israelites refused to remove their leaders from office, even though God ordered not only their removal, but their execution.
Those who lead must be men of character, and men of courage. No wonder Paul places so much emphasis on the character of those who lead in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Leaders must not only be men of character, they must also be men who truly lead, men who take action when it is required. Phinehas teaches us that leadership is not just a matter of holding an office, although he did serve in a leadership role as a priest.
Leadership is not just instructing or commanding others to act as they should. Now one of you go over there and kill them! The sin of this young Israelite was deliberate; he took the initiative to act as he did. The sin of the nation was in remaining passive, even though they knew how they were to respond to this sin.
Phinehas was a leader because he was willing to stand alone, and to act alone, when no one else was willing to do what was right. If the gift is prophecy, that individual must use it in proportion to his faith. In 1 Corinthians , the gift of administration s is, I believe, a supportive gift.
I think that many women have and exercise this gift in a way that does not violate biblical prohibitions against women leading men in the church. The person with this gift does not compel others to act in a certain way, but assists in such a way that others do their jobs better. That, in my opinion, is what administration is all about.
Bureaucracy reverses this, and the administrator is the one in charge, who tells others how they must do their jobs, rather than to listen to those they are helping and assisting them to do what they believe their job requires. In Romans , we find the kind of leadership exemplified by Phinehas. It is often after one has taken his stand in this manner that others follow. This is far different from standing behind, and ordering others to march on ahead of you. It is a kind of leadership that is sadly lacking in our country today.
It was in ancient times as well, and this is why Phinehas stands out in our text as a true leader. We should also note that the zealous and courageous action of Phinehas in our text did enhance his leadership role. There was also a human response. When Moses sent the Israelites to war against the Midianites, he sent Phinehas with them, along with the holy instruments and signal trumpets.
It was in this battle that the five Midianite kings were slain, along with Balaam Numbers In Joshua 22, we find that when a report reached the Israelites that the Reubenites, Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh had built an altar at the entrance to the land of Canaan , they assumed their brothers had turned from worshipping God to worshipping the gods of the Canaanites.
They sent a leader from each tribe of Israel and Phinehas. If their brothers had turned away from worshipping God in truth, the Israelites knew that Phinehas was the man to deal with it. Sin is like a cancer—the longer we leave it alone, the more likely it is to kill us.
The Corinthian church was reluctant to deal with a man living in sexual immorality—immorality so serious that it shocked even the Corinthians. Paul described sin as a kind of leaven that would corrupt the whole church, and thus must be rooted out:. And I have already judged the one who did this, just as though I were present. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Jesus likewise took a hard line when it came to sin, and urged others to do likewise:. It is necessary that stumbling blocks come, but woe to the person through whom they come.
It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. Surely our text, like many others in the Bible, warns us about being soft on sin. These days sexual sin is looked upon lightly by some who profess to be Christians, and it is not even regarded by sin by many others. Let us remember these words from Proverbs:.
Immorality is deadly, so let us deal with it as a deadly disease. Let us not pamper it or protect it, but let us root it out with all diligence. We learn from Numbers 25 that we are never more safe and secure than when we are hated and opposed by the enemies of God. As I read the religious news and as I hear Christians praying, I find that a great deal of their interest and attention is riveted on those who are being persecuted for the sake of Christ.
Now the Bible has a great deal to say about our responsibility toward those who are being persecuted for their faith Hebrews ; , and I do not wish to minimize our obligations here. But I do wish to point out that we are often most vulnerable at those times when we are not under direct attack. As I look back to Numbers 21, I find that the Israelites were attacked on a number of occasions, and in each case God gave the Israelites the victory. The Israelites were more vulnerable to the dinner parties of the Moabites and Midianites than to the war parties of their enemies.
Let us remember this when we or others are suffering persecution. We may very well be in greater danger from those who would befriend us than from those who would attack us. There are today a number of efforts to bring various religious groups together, into some kind of union. We are to manifest Christian unity within the faith, but let us beware of those unions which join belief with unbelief, which join true worship with false worship.
According to the Apostle Paul, there is a lesson to be learned from our text. In his First Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul turns our attention to the sin of Israel in Numbers 25 and uses it as a warning to the Christians of his day, and of ours as well:. For they were all drinking from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. And God is faithful, who will not let you be tried too much, but with the trial will also provide a way through it so that you may be able to endure 1 Corinthians , underscoring mine.
The Corinthians had corresponded with Paul and had inquired about eating meat sacrificed to idols 1 Corinthians ff. If this logic were valid, eating meats offered to idols would be wrong for a different reason. A weaker brother would be caused to stumble by following our example of eating such meats, and thus our actions would be sin because they would cause a weaker brother to sin He and Barnabas have the right to marry, and to take a wife along as they minister. The saints would be obliged to support these men and their wives.
Paul has chosen not to do so because some might look upon him as being just like the false teachers, who minister primarily for the money.
I will make confession unto Thee in the assembly of my brethren, and I will sing unto Thee in the midst of the assembly of the saints. Bekijk video. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. Dear Kris, Thank you for your support, prayers, advice and encouragement here. This work was published before January 1, , and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least years ago. Chapters record the Sufferings of Jeremiah.
Even though he has the right to be supported in ministry, he sets it aside for the greater good, for the cause of the gospel It is at 1 Corinthians ff. The Corinthians seek to justify eating meats offered to idols because they wish to indulge themselves in the festive dinners of their heathen neighbors not unlike the Israelites gladly accepted a dinner invitation from the Moabites and Midianites in Numbers The self-indulgent Corinthians have developed a line of reasoning that seems to justify the satisfaction of their appetites.
That argument we have already seen in since there are no other gods than God, idols are no big deal, nor is eating meats offered to them. Paul now cuts to the quick, beginning with verse 24 of chapter So run to win. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. In order to win the prize, the contestant must exercise great self-control. Those who are self-indulgent simply do not have the stamina or endurance to win. The Corinthians are caught up in a self-indulgent lifestyle, and thus they insist upon attending those ceremonies where false gods are worshipped, and where delicious meats are served—meats offered to idols.
Paul temporarily granted the Corinthian view that idol-meats were not a problem, since there are no other gods. But now Paul strongly warns the Corinthians about the dangers of their theology and practice. The Corinthians have gotten soft, and they are living indulgent lives, rather than the disciplined lives of an athlete, or a disciple. In the first half of chapter 10, Paul reviews the history of Israel, and especially of the major failures of the nation. In each case, disaster came upon the nation for insisting upon the satisfaction of fleshly lusts. The Christian must live a disciplined life, bringing their bodily desires and appetites under control Israel failed and fell under divine discipline when their fleshly appetites prevailed Paul is not finished yet.
Eating these meats is not an insignificant issue. It is not a matter of personal liberty; it is forbidden see Acts ; The guiding principle for the Christian is that everything we do should be to the glory of God , and not the satisfaction of fleshly lusts.
Some Corinthian saints were all too willing to participate in heathen idol worship in order to enjoy a good meal including meats offered to idols. There, too, the saints were so eager to enjoy a good meal that they made pigs and fools of themselves. Self-indulgence may seem like a rather innocent vice, especially in certain forms. But I must warn you that it is often the beginning of a deadly departure from the true worship of the one and only God. Americans are living indulgently, even many who would consider themselves to be poor.
Let us remember that being a disciple of our Lord means bringing our bodies under discipline; it means crucifying the flesh daily Romans ; Colossians Let us beware of so indulging the flesh that it rules us, rather than us ruling it. Having said this, please do not misunderstand me, as though I was advocating some form of asceticism. There are those who think that abusing the flesh and refusing to enjoy the good things God has provided is truly spiritual.
They are wrong:. That person goes on at great lengths about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind. Do not taste! Do not touch! Our text teaches what observation confirms: sexual sin is often linked with spiritual adultery and apostasy. The statistics are alarming when it comes to how many pastors are leaving the ministry.
When I hear of a pastor who had to resign from his position, without hesitation my first thought is that he has fallen into sexual sin. Very few abandon their faith or their ministry because they have thought through their biblical beliefs and found them to be false. The pattern is so consistent and so frequent, it is entirely predictable. A man who loves the Lord encounters a woman whom he finds attractive.
If not dealt with decisively, this often leads to sexual immorality. Initially, the man acknowledges his sin and guilt, and agrees that he must cease from his sinful behavior. All too often, the man fails to carry out his commitment by making a decisive break in the illicit relationship. Beware of sexual sin. As I read our text in Numbers 25, I am reminded of these words of Scripture:. Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him Hebrews God rewards the righteous.
He rewarded Phinehas for his faithfulness. And God punishes the wicked. God punished those wicked Israelites who engaged in sin. He punished the Midianites and the Moabites. He punished Balaam. God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked. Into smoke they shall vanish away.
The name of the wicked will vanish Psalm , NKJ.
They are utterly consumed with terrors. It took a while for me to see it, and then it was as plain as day. It occurs two times in Numbers It does not occur at all in Numbers When Balaam was used of God to speak words of blessing on the nation Israel, he received a great deal of prominence. Surely the wicked vanish; their days of disobedience and of fleshly indulgence are few.
What a warning this man Balaam should be to all those who would ignore the Word of God and go their own sinful way. What kind of person are you, my friend?
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Are you a Phinehas, who trusted and obeyed God, and who was rewarded for his faith? Or are you a Balaam, who knows a great deal about God, but does not know God personally, and whose destiny is eternal destruction? My prayer is that you will be a Phinehas, and not a Balaam. The final lesson I wish to highlight is the faithfulness of God and the fickleness of men.
Balaam seeks to persuade God to forsake His promise to bless Israel, and to curse them instead. Balaam not only fails to do this, he ends up pronouncing blessings on Israel and cursings on their enemies. While God would not forsake His plans, purposes, and promises, fickle Israel was willing to cast God aside for a mere meal.
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